Sending a file as an attachment by email is really not a big thing. I assume every kid knows how to do it, but then again: our kids today grow up in the digital age. They figure things out in a matter of seconds, maybe minutes. From my experience, it’s merely the generation advanced in years that requires patient assistance. Either or either, the act of attaching a file to an email is not really the reason for writing this post. It’s rather the careless handling of sensitive files. Files, that aren’t meant for everyone’s eyes.
The Challenge to Transfer Confidential Business Files
But how about sending big files?
Or, how about sending files confidentially?
Or, how about sending big files confidentially?
Is this something you ever spent a second thought on?
Big files are an issue for email inboxes that constantly live on the threshold of a full inbox. If you send someone a big file, let’s say 20 MB, you could literally stop the flow of incoming messages in a person’s inbox because it uses up all the space that s/he got left.
That’s a potential business risk for this person. And the remedy to this is awareness.
Awareness that sending one or more big file(s) in an email can be inconvenient for the addressee.
Another vulnerability of the digital age is the confidential transfer of files. Clearly, there is a demand to send files the confidential way for all kinds of businesses. I hereby think of contract drafts, product design drafts, or sensitive finance details, for instance.
Everything that requires a certain confidential handling in order to prevent harm from a business.
Let’s first have a look at the potential weaknesses in transferring a file by standard email.As a first step, you attach a file to an email that is stored on your hard drive. You send that file. The file arrives in the receiver’s inbox as an attachment to an email and can be opened or downloaded from there.
Where’s the greatest vulnerability in this process?
I’ll tell you: it’s in step 2.
The biggest risk is the possibility of data loss or theft of it when in transit between the sender’s and receiver’s computer. From what I know, a determined hacker will not have much difficulty to capture an information from a network connection. Standard email is not safe. If a hacker is after something valuable, s/he can get it without much difficulty if there isn’t any security awareness between the parties.
Big & Confidential Files
Another, not unusual use case is sending big files that are confidential. I could think of videos here. Attaching a video with a file size of 350 MB to an email is futile. Also, unless both email parties would work with encryption, the transfer wouldn’t be confidential.
So, what options do you have now?
I know it’s convenient to store files in storage providers like Google Docs or Dropbox, and then giving access to a client, or even sharing the folder. It’s the whole idea of these storage providers to make business processes easier, and we can’t really blame them for that.
But from time to time we need to use our brain and think twice whether it is still responsible to do that with every business document.
You know the answer.
Today I want to introduce 4 free tools to you that help you with the transfer of big or confidential documents or files. All of these filesharing tools do it a little differently. But they are all appropriate tools for circumnavigating inboxes. In regards to sending confidential files, however, I wouldn’t trust them all, and you will understand what I mean when you read on.
Tools that Transfer Confidential Business Files
This is a tool from the creators of the Firefox browser, Mozilla. The way it works is that the addressee is being sent a download link. The file’s size shouldn’t be much bigger than 1GB (that’s 1024 MB).
It has two levels of security implemented. First, the transfer of the uploaded file happens encrypted. Decryption happens during the download of the file. Secondly, uploaded files are being removed after 24 hours from Firefox’ servers – if nobody has downloaded them in this timeframe. Otherwise, they get destroyed right after someone has clicked the link and downloaded the file. This security feature makes file transfers with Firefox Send a time-sensitive issue. Make sure people you want to transfer a confidential file to, are aware of this.
Firefox Send is currently in its Beta-version, and is free to use for everyone.
Note, that there’s always one file only that can be uploaded and transferred. If you would like to send multiple files, it’s best to zip them before upload.
Compared to Firefox Send, WeTransfer lets you transfer files up to a size of 2 GB with its free version. With the Pro version, you can send up to 20 GB and store up to 100 GB on their server. Additionally, files get password-protected.
Here’s how it works: The addressee gets an email with a file link or an overview of the files that have been sent. Yes, with WeTransfer you can send multiple files without having to zip them. Each file gets its own download link. The file transfer links will automatically expire after seven days. Files are encrypted when they are being transferred (TLS) and when they are being stored (AES-256). As a sender, you will receive a confirmation email once the recipient has downloaded the file.
WeTransfer has a set of apps for Mac, iOS, and Android in place, which let your mobile devices take part in the transfer game.
Because they are located in the EU, WeTransfer has to be compliant with the EU privacy law, which is stricter than US regulations.
Ge.tt is another free filesharing platform, with which one can send multiple files at once.
With an anonymous account, your file’s size can take up to 250 MB, with Premium and Premium+ you can send files of up to 1GB, respectively 200 GB.
When reading their feature list, I couldn’t spot any remarks about encryption and its URL in the browser has also no green padlock that would testify a secure connection. So, I assume that’s not a given with this tool.
My Air Bridge
Visually the most appealing configured tool is perhaps My Air Bridge. With this application you can send data files of up to 20 GB for free, which are then 3 days stored if you have your email address verified with them; otherwise they are 2 days stored on their server.
With one of the 3 paid plans there is more leeway: the max file transfer size varies between 50 GB and 100 GB, and storage size expands up to 1TB. Some of the paid plans even allow to set up a custom subdomain.
Important to mention here, that transfer with My Air Bridge is secured by the highest level of data encryption for transfers.
Over to You
Now, not all these tools I introduced to you work with the emphasis on putting a layer of security to your files in the transfer. Ge.tt, for instance, does not. I am aware that this is not always what is needed. If file security is not a pressing concern for you, there is no need for me to come across too pushy.
Though, having a proven and practical way to send big files without causing a blow up in someone’s inbox, might be just what you’re looking for. In this case – voilà!
But make sure you understand the risks of normal email, and take a minute or two to reflect on your sharing habits. Being security conscious is about maintaining healthy and secure boundaries for all files that could potentially harm your privacy or the credibility of your business – when leaked.
Better be safe than sorry.